India 600 and 189 for 3 (Abhinav 81, Kohli 76*) lead Sri Lanka 291 (Perera 92*, Mathews 83, Jadeja 3-67, Shami 2-45) by 498 runs
Agarkar: India could have bowled again today
Ajit Agarkar feels India's decision to not enforce the follow-on was predictable
India declined to enforce the follow-on after securing a 309-run first-innings lead, and extended it by a further 189 runs at stumps on day three. Virat Kohli and Abhinav Mukund, whose careers have traced vastly different trajectories since they made their Test debuts in the same match six years ago, led India's second-innings effort, adding 133 for the third wicket at 4.48 an over. The partnership came to an end in the last over of the day, Danushka Gunathilaka getting one to go with the angle from around the wicket to trap Abhinav lbw for 81.
Until then, the third-wicket pair had enjoyed a pleasant stay in the middle, with Sri Lanka in damage-control mode throughout, and with Rangana Herath off the field for the last hour, having hurt his finger while diving to stop a powerful Kohli drive. The moment, captain inflicting pain upon captain, perfectly encapsulated the match situation.
With India unlikely to stretch their second innings for too much longer, Sri Lanka face a gargantuan task on the last two days. The highest successful chase at this venue is 99. The highest score made in a fourth innings here - win, lose or draw - is 300. The weather could well be the only thing in the home side's favour.
Rain brought an early end to the middle session after India had lost their two first-innings centurions. Shikhar Dhawan failied to keep a cut down off Dilruwan Perera, while Cheteshwar Pujara clipped Kumara straight to a strategically positioned leg gully. Rain arrived immediately after Pujara's dismissal, 30 minutes before the scheduled tea break.
Play resumed after a break of an hour and 24 minutes. Kohli, the only Indian batsman to not get into double figures in the first innings, made a typically domineering start full of drives through cover before settling into a more prosaic pattern of collecting the uncontested singles made available by Sri Lanka's defensive fields. Abhinav, who is likely to miss the next Test should KL Rahul return from illness, showed off the timing that has yet to fully assert itself in his so-far stop-start career, stepping out to clip Dilruwan Perera against the turn, hooking Lahiru Kumara between long leg and deep square leg, and using the pace adroitly when given width.
Ravindra Jadeja ended Sri Lanka's innings nine balls after lunch, beating Kumara's defensive bat with one that turned just enough to miss the outside edge and hit off stump. At the non-striker's end was Perera, stranded eight short of a maiden Test hundred. His proactive approach had led Sri Lanka's fight in the morning session, in which they scored 135 runs at just over four an over, while losing three wickets.
Perera, batting above No. 8 for only the sixth time in 31 Test innings, did his best to make up for the absence of the injured Asela Gunaratne from Sri Lanka's line-up, showing not just the skills to survive but also an ability to take calculated risks and keep the scoreboard moving. He showed early intent against the spinners, stepping out to Jadeja in the second over of the day and hitting him flat, over the non-striker's head. Not long after, he went down on one knee and slog-swept the left-arm spinner over midwicket. That was to be the first of four sixes from Perera, two each off Jadeja and R Ashwin.
He took on the quicks too, most notably when he made room against Umesh Yadav to slap and ramp him for two fours, either side of third man, shortly after he had brought up his fifth Test fifty. Umesh kept bowling short - intentionally, with two fielders back on the hook - but did not trouble Perera unduly. In his next over, he flat-batted a pull from outside off to the wide long-on boundary.
By that time, Sri Lanka had lost Angelo Mathews, who moved from 54 to 83 before driving too early at a flighted ball from Jadeja and picking out short cover. Jadeja then went on to remove Rangana Herath, who gloved a reverse-sweep to slip. Hardik Pandya took the only other wicket of the session, his first in Test cricket, Nuwan Pradeep bowled playing down the wrong line.
Herath and Pradeep only made 9 and 10, but with Perera scoring quickly at the other end, the seventh- and eight-wicket partnerships added 36 and 39.